corefunction

THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU BELT UP!

weightbelt no good personal trainer rehab trainer.jpg

More often than not I see loads of guys and girls donning the weight belt during lifting sessions, regardless of whether it is a heavy strength session or a metcon that is being carried out.  

When did the weight belt trend begin and what knowledge have we gained since then?  

Do you even know WHY you are wearing a belt if you are someone who puts one on habitually before each session?  

I have tried to breakdown an article by Paul Chek on the subject to highlight the most important points made.  I strongly advise anyone with an interest in prolonging their low back health or anyone currently using weight belts regularly to read the full article here.

Weight belts have been known to be used as far back as the early 1900's, with no clear reasoning behind the reason for their use.  It may have been in line with medical trends back then to use corsets as a treatment for scoliosis and back pain?

These days there has been much research into the area of lower back stabilisation and low back pain resulting in a much more in depth understanding of the stabilising system of the spine.

Cue The Inner Unit & The Outer Unit…

The Inner Unit consists of A)  Transversus Abdominis  (TVA) & posterior fibres of Obliquus Internus, B) Diaphragm, C) Deep Multifidus, D)  Pelvic Floor Musculature.

The Inner Unit consists of A)  Transversus Abdominis  (TVA) & posterior fibres of Obliquus Internus, B) Diaphragm, C) Deep Multifidus, D)  Pelvic Floor Musculature.

These muscles play a vital role in lower back stabilisation!  A study carried out in 1999 concluded that in people without back pain, the TVA fired 30 milliseconds (ms) prior to shoulder movements and 110 ms prior to leg movements.  During each variation of movements performed within the study there was still synergistic (muscles working together to perform a movement) recruitment of all inner unit muscles.  It was noted that regardless of movement plane or pattern of the subjects, the TVA muscle appeared relatively consistent in its activation pattern.  Researchers propose that the nondirectional, specific activation of the TVA relates to the dominant role played in providing spinal stiffness.

 "The TVA, in concert with other inner unit muscles (Figure 1), activates to increase stiffness of spinal joints and the sacroiliac joints (6,7,15). Activation of the inner unit provides the necessary stiffness to give the arms and legs a working foundation from which to operate. Failure of the TVA to activate 30-110 ms prior to arm or leg movements respectively has been correlated with back pain and dysfunction (6, 16). The inner unit is part of a system of stabiliser mechanisms, all of which are dependent on the integrated function of all inner unit muscles." - Paul Chek

Couldn't have said it better myself!  

The Outer Unit consists of many muscles such as the External Obliques, Internal Obliques, Erector Spinae, Latissimus Dorsi, Gluteus Maximus, Adductors and Hamstrings working together with the inner unit to achieve co-ordinated movement.

Here is a simplified version of the inner/outer unit systems.  Using a pirate ship’s mast as a human spinal column. While the inner unit muscles are responsible for developing and maintaining segmental stiffness, the bigger muscles, shown here as guy wires, are responsible for creating movement.

The Inner and Outer Units Simplified

The outer unit muscles of the trunk demonstrated here are (A) rectus abdominis, (B) internal and external oblique, (C) erector spinae; the outer unit actually contains other muscles, which have been excluded for simplification. The inner unit, which contains all the muscles demonstrated in Figure 2. is demonstrated here as (D); the multifidus acting as segmental stabilizers for the purpose of controlling joint stiffness. To tighten the guy wires (A-C), which provide gross stabilization of the ship’s mast without synergistic tightening of the segmental stabilizers (D) would obviously result in increased potential to buckle the mast. The mast represents your spine!

The outer unit muscles of the trunk demonstrated here are (A) rectus abdominis, (B) internal and external oblique, (C) erector spinae; the outer unit actually contains other muscles, which have been excluded for simplification. The inner unit, which contains all the muscles demonstrated in Figure 2. is demonstrated here as (D); the multifidus acting as segmental stabilizers for the purpose of controlling joint stiffness. To tighten the guy wires (A-C), which provide gross stabilization of the ship’s mast without synergistic tightening of the segmental stabilizers (D) would obviously result in increased potential to buckle the mast. The mast represents your spine!

"Recruitment of trunk stabilizers via EMG with and without a weight belt has been studied. These studies concluded there was increased recruitment of the erector spinae and rectus abdominis when wearing a belt. Now that you understand the workings of the inner unit, it should be evident that by recruiting the larger, gross stabilizers without proportionate recruitment of the inner unit musculature responsible for regulating joint stiffness, the result could certainly lead to spinal joint dysfunction or exacerbate an existing condition. It is also likely that prolonged use of weight belts will result in coordination problems within the inner unit muscles and among the inner and outer unit systems." - Paul Chek.

Now, all this said, if you are someone who regularly relies on a weight belt and this article opens up your eyes into entering the world of being Back Strong & Beltless.  Please refer to Part 3 of the article where Paul will talk you through the safe and necessary steps to take in order to wean yourself off the belt.  Your current movement patterns will be reliant on your weight belt and getting rid of the belt all of a sudden will no doubt result in injury.  Wean yourself off slowly and carefully and get your internal weight belt working for you instead!  Just as nature intended!  :-)

All references can be found on Paul Chek's full article.

NO. 3 OF OUR TOP 4 AB EXERCISES: STIR THE POT OR A FITBALL PLANK REGRESSION

A great exercise for functionally training your abs and core! Thanks to Stuart McGill for this one!

Want to train your ABS in an efficient, functional way?

As mentioned in the previous Sit-up posts, you all know (unlike most personal trainers), I am no fan of traditional sit-ups. So here is the third of 4 alternatives that will hit your abs hard and give you that burn that you probably desire. As well as increase the function of your core area if done correctly.

No. 3 in our top 4 ab exercises

3. STIR THE POT:
This is a killer exercise for your abs and core! 
Find a fitball, assume the plank position with a wide stance at the feet to begin with as this will be more manageable at first. Elbows on the ball but aim them to be just underneath the shoulders and about shoulder width apart.
SQUEEZE your gluts, PUSH your elbows into the ball to lift your body away from it. Make sure your butt isn't sticking in the air or lagging towards the ground (think good plank position).

If this is challenging enough then just start with a plank hold and work your way up to achieving 60seconds. Once this is manageable only then attempt the STIR THE POT.

Now you are ready to begin...whilst maintaining as close to zero movement through your torso as possible, gently make small circles with your elbows. Aim for around 6-8reps one way and then repeat the other way. You can then build on the reps as you get stronger or go for time instead. 

This is a great exercise for training your abdominal region to stabilise your pelvis and lower back. If you find your pelvis is rotating with this exercise and you are struggling to control it then maybe go back to the pallof press for a while as it may be a sign that your obliques are not in good working order.

Give it a go and let me know what you think.


LEARN HOW TO TRAIN SMART!

JOIN US AND TRAIN ONLINE USING OUR VERSATILE APP!

YOU WILL LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS OF MOVEMENT AND HOW TO EXERCISE SMART.

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NO. 2 OF OUR TOP 4 AB EXERCISES: FITBALL ROLLOUT OR TRX ROLLOUT

Fitball and TRX rollout exercise. A great way to functionally train your abs and improve core stability!

Want to train your ABS in an efficient, functional way?

As mentioned in the previous Sit-up post, you all know (unlike most personal trainers), I am no fan of traditional sit-ups. So here is the second of 4 alternatives that will hit your abs hard and give you that burn that you probably desire. As well as increase the function of your core area if done correctly.

No. 2 in our top 4 ab exercises

2. ROLLOUTS:

A great way to train your abdominals and work on core stability.

Using either a fitball or a TRX, kneel down, if using a fitball then place your hands on the ball about a foot or two in front of you. If using a TRX then grip the TRX about hip level. Slowly reach out (either rolling the ball out or letting the TRX push forward) whilst locking out your hips (you should feel your gluts & abs engage) so your knees; hips; shoulders are in a straight line. 
Only go as far as you can without feeling any discomfort in your back, if you do, then back off a bit. Don't think you have to rollout all the way, start small and progress. You should be feeling it in your abdominal region. 
Roll out and then back again for 1 rep, see how you go with the reps to determine where to start...don't push it at first though, only do what is comfortable and build on that. I'd suggest holding a good breath on the way out and breathing out as you come back to the start position.

Give it a go! :-)


LEARN HOW TO TRAIN SMART!

JOIN US AND TRAIN ONLINE USING OUR VERSATILE APP!

YOU WILL LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS OF MOVEMENT AND HOW TO EXERCISE SMART.

PROGRAMS THOUGHTFULLY PUT TOGETHER BY A PHYSIOTHERAPIST QUALIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER.

GETTING YOU ON THE ROAD TO FITNESS SAFELY AND EFFECTIVELY!

1 OF OUR TOP 4 AB EXERCISES: PALLOF PRESS

A great exercise for oblique function!

As promised from our previous post, here is the first of four of our top abdominal exercises that won't harm your lower back.

Want to train your ABS in an efficient, functional way?

As mentioned in the previous Sit-up post, you all know (unlike most personal trainers), I am no fan of traditional sit-ups. So here is the first of 4 alternatives that will hit your abs hard and give you that burn that you probably desire. As well as increase the function of your core area if done correctly.

1. PALLOF PRESS:

This is a killer exercise for the OBLIQUES! 

Kneel down side on to either a light powerband or a cable (I would start with 10kg and go from there, this is harder than it looks!). You only need a small amount of tension if using the Powerband. Keep your hips locked out and hold the cable/powerband level with the bottom of your sternum. As you breathe out, extend the arms and lockout the elbows. The band/cable will want to pull you across to the attachment, the aim is to not let it, make sure you don't hold your breath or flex the hips, if you do then back off the band a bit or lower the weight.

Once this is manageable then try hold the arms out for a count of 5 seconds whilst still breathing.


LEARN HOW TO TRAIN SMART!

JOIN US AND TRAIN ONLINE USING OUR VERSATILE APP!

YOU WILL LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS OF MOVEMENT AND HOW TO EXERCISE SMART.

PROGRAMS THOUGHTFULLY PUT TOGETHER BY A PHYSIOTHERAPIST QUALIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER.

GETTING YOU ON THE ROAD TO FITNESS SAFELY AND EFFECTIVELY!

The Turkish Get-Up

The Turkish Get-Up (TGU), one of my favourite movements as it requires & improves mobility; stability; strength; cross lateralisation (right brain communicating with left brain); proprioception; balance AND it feels great to do!

A client of mine who had previously been training in a group setting elsewhere had been told that she couldn’t partake in the TGU portion of the class as she was unable to do them properly. The TGU was one of her goals working with me so we started by breaking down the separate components of the TGU and teaching her brain to learn each phase of the movement using only her bodyweight.  At the start she struggled with the initial phase of the TGU (going from lying on your back to propped up on your elbow).  This phase requires good reflexive stability through both the Anterior Oblique Sling & Posterior Oblique Sling (Anterior - adductors; same side internal oblique; opposite external oblique & pec minor. Posterior - Lat; Thoracolumbar fascia; opposite side Glut Max).

The TGU predominantly utilises the transverse plane (rotation), taking my client back to basics by retraining rolling patterns significantly improved her initial phase of the Get-Up within the same session.  We spent  as long as we needed, dedicating about 5-10 minutes of each session, practising the Get-Up until I was happy she was moving smoothly enough to progress onto the next phase.  All the other movements chosen for our workout session were geared at feeding the Get-Up.

Now she is able to power through the whole TGU from ground to standing with more fluidity and ease of movement.  This is a great milestone for her progression! It also translates over to life, as she has been feeling a lot more flexible and stronger in her day to day life, which for us at moov pt, is more important than anything else! 

Being able to assess WHY someone is struggling through a certain phase of any movement and having the ABILITY to apply movement correctives to ENABLE that person to access that phase more efficiently is what we are about at moov pt.  Tapping into someone's motor control system to make positive change takes KNOWLEDGE and EXPERIENCE along with an extensive library of corrective exercises.  

If you are trying to achieve a complex movement, make sure you break it down into it's individual parts and spend as much time needed on each component to give your brain a chance to learn what you are trying to achieve.

 

no equipment?...NO EXCUSES!

An easy, fun workout to do in the comfort of your own home...using your bodyweight to get the heart pumping and the muscles bulging ;-)

Give it a try...

 

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make your chocolate dark

Did you know dark chocolate can actually be healthy?

Here are some of the benefits: - keeps your heart healthy - improves cognitive function (brain health) - helps control insulin levels due to low glycemic index of dark chocolate - full of antioxidants to fight free radicals in the body - high in the minerals pottasium; copper; magnesium; iron

It is recommended to have 20g per day (roughly 2 blocks) for health benefits.

Make sure your dark chocolate is a minimum of 70% cocao solids (this ensures lower sugar content) & preferably organic. Pictured is one of my favourite brands, Vivani, another one is Green & Blacks. Both are organic and have ethical sourcing standards.

Why Vivani?

  • all ingredients are organically grown and certified.
  • cocoa varieties and other ingredients are of top quality and are used in an optimum ratio of mixture.
  • they deliberately exclude lecithin.
  • they do not use genetically engineered ingredients.
  • they have an amazing dark chocolate range such as dark chocolate 71%, 75%, 85%, 92%; dark chocolate chilli; fine dark orange amongst others!

Next time you reach for the milk chocolate, why not try dark ;-)

 

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This great little information packed ebook not only contains a wide variety of 12 different recipes, but also has a stack of information on the truth behind fats; how we need to form good food habits for our kids and the 10 essential ingredients you need to keep in your cupboard to always have a healthy treat option available to you. 

 

vertical force management: are you box jumping your joints into overload?

Far too often I see and hear people carrying out inefficient and heavy landing box jumps. This places a large amount of stress on your joints and can lead to injury. Box jumps or any leaping and landing drill should be done by absorbing the impact through the whole body in a soft and controlled manner.

If there is insufficient mobility available in a certain plane of movement, the body may need to accommodate forces in another plane (i.e. poor ankle range of movement in sagittal plane = knees & ankles fall inward into transverse plane). If your body does not have sufficient stability in a certain plane, it can divert forces to another plane (i.e. insufficient spinal stability in sagittal plane = spine side flexes into coronal plane). You need sufficient control of all involved joints in order to safely perform box jumps.

An example of correct and incorrect landing form with knees and ankles buckling in on the picture on the right. (Picture taken from Stability, sport & Performance Movement by Joanne Elphinston.)

An example of correct and incorrect landing form with knees and ankles buckling in on the picture on the right. (Picture taken from Stability, sport & Performance Movement by Joanne Elphinston.)

"Your hips, knees & ankles should stay in alignment during take off & landing. A good landing should absorb force through the hips, knees & ankles; the muscles on opposite sides of the joints work in partnership to allow the extensor group to first quickly lengthen and then shorten again to absorb and control joint bending. This does not necessarily come naturally to some athletes. Instead of springs in their joints, the supporting muscles fail to change length in a coordinated fashion and the athlete lands with their joints locked, causing a jarring sensation and reducing their ability to move easily from the landing position." ~ Joanne Elphinston.

Another common trend with box jumps is landing on the box with your heels hanging off the edge, this can add extra strain through the calves and achilles, leading to inflammation and injury. Make sure your whole foot lands on the box to avoid unnecessary injury.

There are 3 key components for vertical force management:

1. Unlocking the hips

Unlocking the hips involves a small movement that fractionally lowers your centre of gravity while maintaining a vertical trunk (the initial phase of a squat), this releases tension in the hip flexors & lower back which makes a spring action available in the hips. This allows for efficient functional motor patterning and the possibility of glute activation. It is extremely important to be able to separate hip movement from spinal movement as it is common to couple hip flexion with back extension (compressing the lumbar spine) or couple hip flexion with spinal flexion tilting the pelvis under (increasing load in the lumbar spine), both of these compromise the spine.

2. Dropping the centre of gravity

The natural squat (air squat) is the most direct method for dropping the centre of gravity. Adequate ankle, knee & hip mobility is required and an ability to control your balance point in the squat. To find your balance point practice sitting in a squat and shifting your weight from heel to ball of foot (whilst still keeping your heels on the ground) until you find a comfortable position where you feel balanced and as if you can move sideways, forwards or upwards if you choose to but still be in balance. Once you have this, practice dropping into your squat and bouncing back out of it with little effort. Once this is mastered, effective shock absorption in box jumps becomes easier. Essentially, this is the motion used at the top of the box to absorb the impact.

3. Shock absorption

If the forces are not absorbed in the hip and knees, they are either forced downwards, causing a pronatory collapse at the foot and ankle (weight on the inside of the foot as foot rolls inward), or they shunt up into the hip or sacroiliac joint. Smooth, co-ordinated hip and knee bending keeps vertical forces flowing down and out. If this motion is blocked at the hip and knee by over-contracting the muscles around them (splinting effect at the legs), the pelvis stops moving downwards and the force from above crashes into the lower back. This can cause a buckling effect in the spine, and over time, lower back pain. Alternatively, the knees can collapse inwards as another compensation strategy for force absorption. This causes stress at the knees and ankles and lead to various injuries.

So in order to stay injury free and not over stress your joints it is imperative to look at your box jump form if this is a movement you do on a semi-frequent basis.